The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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/s/ or /z/ in ending of [long vowel] + “se” or “s” [closed]

Are there any rules regarding the pronunciation of "se" or "s" in the ending [long vowel] + "se" or "s"? /z/: tease, browse /s/: lease, house English pronunciation pod in the reference just lists ...
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1answer
45 views

Greek-Gothic Weekday Names in Bavarian

The weekdays in my native language (Bavarian) are very inconsistent and two of them apparently came to us from the Goths, who in turn have adopted them from Greek. The two days in question are "Iada" (...
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1answer
89 views

Given two languages, one older than the other, what are the criteria to decide if the older one is an ancestor or an older variety of the other?

Let us consider two languages that are clearly related to each other, and one of them is older than the other. How would an academic linguist determine if the older language is an/the ancestor of the ...
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2answers
84 views

Determining the Age of a Word

Apologies in advance for any ignorance, I'm a non-linguist hoping to better understand the methods in the field (if any) to answer a question I have. In particular, I want to know when a word first ...
2
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1answer
102 views

History of “have”, “avoir”, “haben”, etc. as auxiliary

In Geoff Pullum's recent post Being an Auxiliary on the Lingua Franca blog, he states that the sense of "have" as an auxiliary (forming the perfect tense) evolved from the possession sense, "but the ...
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Has a Dravido-Australic superfamily been proposed?

There seem to be striking typological similarities between Dravidian and Australian languages (see, e.g., the answers to this question Are there languages with the three-fold articulation place ...
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2answers
45 views

Potential gaps in the pIE phonological system?

The phonological system of proto-Indo-European (and of any other proto-language without written records) is reconstructed via the comparative method, which inevitably leaves some questions open. One ...
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2answers
427 views

Can we predict written language's evolution due to technological advances?

Using the "shortcuts" that are used nowadays (emoticons, internet abbreviations, email formatting, memes, social media sharing [Pinterest, Facebook, Google Plus, "tweets" and the like) as a base, can ...
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2answers
59 views

Sibling in other European languages

The English word sibling comes from sib + ling. According to the OED the etymology of sib is: Etymology: Old English sib(b , = Old Frisian (and Frisian) sib , Middle Dutch sib(be , zibbe , Old ...
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60 views

How did West Germanic languages evolve?

I'm trying to make a comprehensive phylogenetic tree of Germanic languages, with dates of divergence, and I have been unable to find details on West Germanic languages and how they diverged. I have ...
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2answers
90 views

Are There Ancient Greek Words Descended From Sumerian?

Does the lexicon of Ancient Greek contain words believed to be of Sumerian origin? If so, can some estimate of their number be provided? Thanks
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The semantical change of сарай - “saráj” (rus., ukr.) vs. sister and donor languages: pl. 'seraj', srb-cro. 'saraj'

Much like (eng.) saray, the words derive themselves from Ottoman Turkish latinized: saray ("palace", "mansion", "castle"), which itself is derived from Persian سرای ("hall", "dwelling", "mansion", "...
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1answer
36 views

Developing complex grammar out of simple

So, I'm wondering, is there any language that has recently (say, ~1000 years) developed complex grammar not present in its ancestor language? I am asking for recent changes because I can imagine ...
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1answer
72 views

Which book is rigorous in explaining the evolution of language?

I wanted to have an experience on how language evolved, from a rigorous point of view. I searched for books; there are many books, most of them in popular domain, which I don't aim at, as the density ...
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1answer
53 views

Is there any rule in recursion? [closed]

recursion is the ability to place one component inside another component, so is it only for the same kind such as NP with NP, PP with PP, and etc?
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2answers
69 views

Where can I find old dictionaries?

I'm often curious about how the meanings of English words have evolved over time. I have a copy the 1913 Webster's, and it's very useful. But ideally I would like to have a copy for each decade, or ...
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2answers
122 views

Isolated language as null hypotheses?

When reading about rare or antique languages I often came across statements like "the most widespread / widely accepted theory is that it is an isolated language". You can read that for example in ...
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1answer
58 views

Abstract analysis [closed]

Propose two analyses for given data: an abstract analysis, with abstract underlying segments and a concrete analysis with exception features. [sen't-amos] we sit / ['sjent-o] I sit [kon'...
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1answer
206 views

Where did the homonyms which retain meaning among languages come from?

Some languages have homonyms which are semantically equivalent to homonyms in other languages. A few examples of this phenomenon: "Morgen" in German and "утре" in Bulgarian can mean either "...
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75 views

How can we support that two words with different meanings are cognate?

Consider this excerpt from this etymology of "lose": Old English losian "be lost, perish," from los "destruction, loss," from Proto-Germanic * lausa- (cognates: Old Norse los "the breaking up of ...
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1answer
74 views

Just a stupid question about possible connection between Finno-Ugric and European languages

So, I've taken a look on some Finnic conjugation and it just seems VERY similar to Indo-European languages. For instance, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/n%C3%A4hd%C3%A4#Finnish . One notices ...
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1answer
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How do they know how to translate Old English?

For instance, we know how to translate the hieroglyphics because of the Rosetta Stone. I'm aware that Old English is far more similar to known languages than the hieroglyphics, but looking at the ...
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2answers
164 views

What program can I use to make a tree of a language family?

I'm not looking to make anything really special looking, I'd just like to make basic branches going down to draw a family tree. I tried Paint but that's difficult to edit, and Word wouldn't be easy to ...
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0answers
64 views

How did 'arithmetic' come to current pronunciation (or spelling)?

I am talking about 'th' that represents /θ/ sound. Wiktionary states, that the word 'arithmetic' is borrowed at some stage from French 'arsmetike'. I can imagine that at some moment the word came to ...
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236 views

How stable are grammatical genders?

In languages which have gender-like classifications for nouns, like French and Russian, how often do nouns change gender over time? Have any studies been done to get statistics on how many words have ...
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1answer
69 views

Sound correspondences in Germanic languages

I've noticed that in particular germanic languages have similar base words to english of which many times the only difference is that of the vowels. This would make sense seing as to how they are ...
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2answers
127 views

Other languages that borrow as promiscuously as English?

I've heard people say that the reason English is such a great language is that it's enriched itself by stealing so promiscuously from other languages. The image I get of English is that she's like the ...
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2answers
86 views

History of Preverbs in Indo-European

As you may know, quite some of the IE languages know preverbs, who may modify the meaning of a verbal root. I would like to know more about the interrelation of the various preverbs found in these ...
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116 views

Is there something deeper behind the “verb classes swapping” of the subjunctive endings in Romance languages?

I first asked this question in http://spanish.stackexchange.com/q/15929/11155 However the Spanish community has not found any answer yet and the phenomenon is observable in many Romance languages. I ...
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2answers
114 views

Has any Indic language spirantized its voiceless aspirates? If not, why not?

Many or most Indic languages possess voiceless aspirated stops. Cross-linguistically, such stops often turn into fricatives: e.g., in Indo-European, this happened in Greek, in Iranian, and probably in ...
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1answer
199 views

Did Latin have lower-case letters and a full stop at the end of sentences in the 1st century AD?

Did Latin have lower-case letters and a full stop at the end of sentences in the 1st century AD? Googling doesn't seem to yield a definitive answer.
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140 views

“Cloth” lexical set: Is there a complete description of the possible conditioning environments?

This question is about speakers without the cot-caught merger (so, speakers who pronounce words such as “lot,” “cot,” “swat" with a distinct vowel from words such as “thought,” “caught,” “water.”) I’...
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108 views

Degree of difference between language ans its ancestor

I know that languages change over time and they also diverge, which should decrease mutual intelligibility, but usually they do so in the way that keeps bunch of languages more or less together, while ...
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0answers
89 views

Why is the French accent so different from other Romance accents? [closed]

In terms of pronounciation, the general French accent is very different from the Italian, Spanish or Romanian ones. For example: many conventional sounds in Romance langauges (i.e. /r/ or /j/) are ...
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4answers
247 views

Are sound changes regular?

Are sound changes regular now or not? I mean it seems to me that it's accepted that sound change is pretty regular, because of how sound changes are treated in etymology/historical linguistics. I even ...
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2answers
181 views

What were the westernmost and easternmost Indo-European languages in c. 1350 CE?

More specifically, what are the most historically entrenched westernmost and easternmost Indo-European languages? For my purposes, this excludes the spread of English, Spanish etc. through relatively ...
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3answers
572 views

What is the reason for the double negation found in some languages?

I'm a bulgarian. My language has a double negation form and I do not understand why and how can people talk like that and how it came to be in first place. Everyone just seem to accept it and no one ...
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30 views

Influences on the accent of Georgia (the American state)?

The accent of (most of) the American state of Georgia, as far as I know, lacks the drawl of most other Southern American accents. Instead, it is quicker and clipped. Does anyone know why? Does the ...
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2answers
86 views

Historical Linguistics: Merging consonants [closed]

In Middle Egyptian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_language#Phonology), the /s/ and /z/ merged into one sound, but the graphemes continued to be used interchangeably. As one who is interested ...
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5answers
148 views

Place feature metathesis

Familiar cases of metathesis involve segments changing places, but metathesis can also operate at the subsegmental level, affecting individual features. I'm specifically interested in metathesis of ...
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1answer
94 views

Are there laws of semantic change? [closed]

I'm looking for laws (hypotheses, presumed laws) of semantic change such as the following: (a) law of differentiation: nearby synonyms tend to diverge in meaning over time (b) parallel change: words ...
6
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1answer
137 views

Why the grammatical difference between “eu gosto” in Portuguese and “me gusta” in Spanish. What's the historical evolution of this expression?

Apparently, "eu" is the subject in "eu gosto (de isso)" while "me" is the object in "me gusta (algo)". Why such a difference between two languages? What's the historical evolution of this expression?
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Is the development of an English phrase such as “on the internet” a process of natural selection? [closed]

I keep asking this question over and over again. For example, it seems that the word "Internet" (the specific global system of interconnected Internet Protocol (IP) networks) was coined in 1960s or ...
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2answers
102 views

Is there a phylogenetic tree for all known languages?

I have searched all over, and found a few but none of them have all known languages that ever existed, does anyone know of one of these? (p.s. I apologize for making language mistakes, as English is ...
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2answers
208 views

Are there practical reasons why languages developed left to right or right to left writing sytems

Some writing systems go right to left, such as Arabic: Others left to right, for example modern romance languages: Languages like Japanese traditionally used vertical writing systems where the ...
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182 views

Did PIE *h3 cause voicing in any other words than the “drink” word?

The Proto-Indo-European "third laryngeal", *h3, is often assumed to have been a voiced sound based on the fact that some reflexes of the "drink" root *peh3- appear to show voicing assimilation of p to ...
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77 views

Labiodental sounds in languages

I noticed that IE languages often derive /v/ from /w/. It is a bit of a rare sound (predominantly IE?). I wonder how /v/ came about in various languages? In general, labiodentals seem to be a more "...
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203 views

Is there any language which doesn't have “hello”, “thank you” or “please”? [closed]

If so, is there seen some relation (origin in the Proto-Human language), or did these phrases arose independently?
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Are any dialects of English known to have a partial meet-meat merger?

For many dialects of English (including my own) multiple historical lexical sets are merged into one "FLEECE" set (this diaphoneme can be represented with IPA /iː/). I've read about the basics of the ...
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2answers
130 views

Irregular penultimate stress in English words from classical sources

Wikipedia says about stress in Latinate English words: In words of three or more syllables, stress falls either on the penult or the antepenult (third from the end), according to these criteria: ...